23 arrested in stunt motorcycle crackdown

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A gathering of stunt motorcyclists in the St. Louis region is off to a testy start.

St. Louis police on Thursday night arrested 23 people and towed 24 motorcycles from an area near Interstate 70 after officers observed what they called dangerous behavior — the kind of thing they had repeatedly warned participants of this weekend’s “Ride of the Century” to refrain from.

Police spokeswoman Schron Jackson said Friday officers observed about 40 motorcyclists driving recklessly through the city. She said they were doing stunts on the streets, running red lights, driving on sidewalks and driving on the wrong side of the road.

Jackson said the motorcyclists fled when police approached. Those apprehended are expected to be charged with careless and reckless driving. Fifteen of the suspects are from outside the St. Louis area.

This year marks the 11th Ride of the Century, sponsored by a St. Louis stunt motorcycle team known as Streetfighterz. Calls to Streetfighterz went unanswered, but several people posted about the crackdown on a Ride of the Century Facebook page.

Police from throughout the region have pledged a crackdown for any violations as potentially thousands of motorcyclists participate in the ride. Nearly 100 tickets were issued and 19 motorcyclists arrested in 2012.

“While we welcome motorcyclists to our city, participating in reckless and dangerous behavior on our roadways will not be tolerated,” Jackson said.

The Ride of the Century attracts street-bike riders from across the country. In recent years, several motorists have complained about dangerous stunts on the region’s interstate highways.

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said his officers will go to the extraordinary measure of contacting the insurance company for motorcyclists accused of hazardous violations to make sure the company knows about the dangerous activity and can adjust rates accordingly.

Streetfighterz formed in St. Louis in 1999. The team has a production company that produces stunt DVDs and online vide

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